Microsoft and Netsafe have come together to issue a fresh warning about scammers posing as Microsoft repreentatives.
The organisations say internet users should be aware of the new wave of scammers, who they say are targeting Kiwis with warnings about fake viruses on their computers.
According to Microsoft and Netsafe, the companies have both received a ‘notable’ increase in reports of the scam, which involves scammers trying to defraud people by phone or pop up messages on screen. The scammers claim to be representatives from Microsoft and tell users they have idetified a problem with the user’s device.
The scammers then offer to fix the compromised device and ask for remote access, which can reveal passwords, credit card details, bank account numbers and other information. They may also explicitly ask for payment so that protection software – which is in fact malicious – can be installed.
According to Netsafe, some people have allowed access to their computers in these ways and have consequently lost money upwards of $400.
Martin Cocker, Netsafe chief executive, says this pattern of phone scamming is not new and variations of it have been circulating for several years.
“The scammers claim to represent the Microsoft brand because the company is well known to have trusted experts, and so the calls may sound genuine,” says Cocker.
“People are led to believe they are doing the right thing by handing over private passwords or details, but are soon fraudulently charged money, have their identity stolen, find their computer has been infected with viruses or other malware that seriously compromises their security,” he explains.
Microsoft NZ’s marketing and operations director Frazer Scott says the key message Microsoft wants to make clear, once again, to New Zealand internet users is that the company will never call them asking for remote access to their computer.
“Microsoft does not call customers at home saying that we have detected a problem with their computer, and we will never ask for passwords or other private details in any forum,” states Scott.
Cocker says their advice to people who receive suspect calls is to hang up immediately.
"If you have given someone remote access to your device you should immediately end the session and contact Netsafe,” says Cocker.
“If you have given any bank details to a caller, then contact your bank as soon as possible to advise them of the possible fraud.”
Microsoft and Netsafe say that the recent fresh wave of reports about these scams is a timely reminder for people to be vigilant, and refer users to the following advice in the event they are called by a scammer.
Features of scammer calls:
How to deal with the overseas cold callers:
Hang up the phone – engaging with or taunting these companies can lead to you receiving many more calls at all times of the day or night. Some technicians have resorted to threats or abuse to get computer owners to give remote access.